If technology is not your core business, hiring a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) may not be on the top of your priority list. However, there are still many areas in which a CTO can help you. For example, a CTO can help you scale up your back office to match your business growth or use data to make better strategic and tactical business decisions.
Hiring a CTO and a development team to support the CTO can be beyond the budget of a small to medium business (SME). As a result, many SMEs overcome this limitation by scoping out a specific project and engaging 3rd party software development houses to execute an in-house digital transformation project. However, in some cases, you may not possess the knowledge or experience to manage the 3rd party development houses. In other cases, the scope of the project that you designed may not be the best way to solve your business’s pain point.
If you are looking for an alternative engagement approach to gaining access to this important technical resource, you have come to the right place.
Introduction to Fractional CTO
A fractional CTO can either work alone or as part of a development house offering a fractional CTO service. In both cases, fractional CTO allows for flexibility and agility when it comes to meeting your software needs. A fractional CTO is a balance between hiring a full in-house software development team and a pure outsourcing model.
A fractional CTO, provides on-call technology advisory services and consulting for businesses. The fractional part of their namesake references how these CTOs work:
For a fraction of the time
On a fraction of the projects
For a fraction of the cost
What does a fractional CTO do every day?
Crafting your business’s technology strategy, putting it into motion, making adjustments, and executing it.
Making sure your business is using the correct technology to reach its goals.
Looking at the “bigger picture” and making sure the product roadmap is being properly built.
Overcoming common challenges, a software development team is consistently having issues with.
A fractional CTO serves as the Architect of your business’s technology stack and advises you on areas that can be improved using technology. These roles and responsibilities should come first before you engage any software development houses to build your project.
How a Fractional CTO can Help your Business
Here are some of the major benefits that come from working with a fractional CTO.
1 – A new strategic viewpoint
A fractional CTO can provide strategic guidance to you, helping you to identify opportunities to leverage technology to drive business growth. They can also help you to understand the competitive landscape and make informed decisions when it comes to adopting technology to help keep your business competitive
2 – A new resource for information
A fractional CTO brings a deep understanding of technology and its potential impact on business operations. They can help SMEs identify the most appropriate technology solutions for their needs, as well as develop and implement a technology roadmap to support the long-term growth of the business.
3 – A new liaison for your business
A fractional CTO can be a bridge between the business and technology teams. This allows the business team to understand how technology and data can help them to see certain blind stops and encourage the technology team on design thinking when it comes to solving problems with technology.
4 – Cost-effectiveness
Hiring a full-time CTO can be cost-prohibitive for many SMEs. A fractional CTO provides access to the same level of expertise at a fraction of the cost, allowing you to get the support you need without breaking the bank.
5 – Flexibility
A fractional CTO can work with an SME on a project-by-project basis, providing the flexibility to scale up or down as needed. This allows you to get the support you need without committing to long-term employment contracts. This is extremely useful if technology is not your core business, because you will then not have to consistently find projects to keep your developers busy.
6 – Reduce the risk of tech project failures
Certain technical blindspots or wrong expectations about technology can cause the project to be mis-scoped. That is, believing that technology is the silver bullet to solving some of your in-house problems. Frequently the technology to solve a problem exists, but failure to come up with a change management plan can result in the adoption of a white elephant. A competent fractional CTO will help to be the architect of this change for you and mitigate the risk of project failures due to change management.
7 – Communication with software vendors
One of the main reasons why digital transformation fails for SMEs is because the organisation lacks the knowledge and experience in engaging vendors to develop custom softwares. This can be due to communication difficulties between you and the software vendors. For example, development houses may require executive decisions to be made by you regarding certain technical architecture, they may also not be familiar with your current processes to be able to identify blindspots in the change management plan.
8 – Feature creeps with software vendors
Software houses can develop a wide range of applications and systems, but they may not have the deep understanding of your immediate business needs. Processes that are common in your line of business may not be common sense to the software vendor. For example, in the development of a point of sales system, it may not be immediately obvious to a vendor that the ability to recall a bill is important. As a result, certain critical workflows when not specified may be omitted by the vendor resulting in a never-ending cycle of features that needs to be added that frustrates both parties.
Fractional CTOs are an alternative engagement approach for your company to gain technical resources for transforming your business. They will help you stay ahead of the curve by being a cost-effective architect of change for your company. In a world where digital transformation is happening all around us, it’s more important than ever to have someone who can keep up with all these changes and implement them in your business.